Letter to the Editor

Be afraid, be very afraid I’m not a political “gang member.” When I vote, it’s for the candidate that represents me.

Be afraid, be very afraid

I’m not a political “gang member.” When I vote, it’s for the candidate that represents me. I don’t vote for the colours they wear.

So my disgust for the recent treatment and firing of Mike Travill is only motivated by the deplorable and disrespectful actions of the powers that be.

This is a government-sanctioned lynching, plain and simple.

What I know, through my limited contact with Travill, is that he is an honest, by-the-book person.

He helped my mother with her workers’ compensation claim after many people in government, who could have helped, turned their back on her for more than 19 years.

He was one of the main people who worked on her case to rectify the injustice that was done to her.

Every person that I have spoken to that had him as an advocate, or who has had any dealings with Travill have told me the exact same thing about his character.

I’m not privy to all the details as to why he was suspended — but then again neither is the man being railroaded.

He is not even being given the chance to prove them wrong with his own documentation.

Shame on them and the bitter bandwagon jumpers who are grabbing their pitchforks and torches and joining the fray, no matter what gang patch they wear on their back.

If anyone, it’s the axe wielders who are padding their hours.

Be afraid, low-ranked government workers.

Be careful whose toes you step on.

Zvonko Jovanovic


Landing a solid

left on TILMA

Last week there were some comments in the Yukon News regarding the Trade, Investment, and Labour Mobility Agreement, particularly by Doug Graham, Rick Karp and Keith Halliday, that are more confusing than helpful.

For some, TILMA appears to become a vehicle to address a variety of themes that have not much to do with the agreement, a beef with unions, a dislike of the anti-globalization movement, unease with nonconformists, intellectuals etc.

The result is misinformation in significant areas and aspects of the agreement, overlooking and distorting the following:

1. Many Whitehorse bylaws, like the one that restricts downtown construction to four storeys, are clearly an impediment to investment, as defined in TILMA, and could be challenged.

2. The Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) has passed a resolution against TILMA in September. Whitehorse city councillors ought to be aware of that.

For elected officials the question is also one of loyalty and obligations.

Can a councillor undermine the city’s long-term sustainability planning, a planning process with many items that are vulnerable under TILMA?

The TILMA impact is already felt in BC.

One example is that school boards had to take back decisions against junk food sales in schools. This has already happened even though the transition period is in place until April 2009, which is supposed to blunt TILMA effects.

3. Despite the provisions in “Article 21 Further Negotiations” Manitoba and Saskatchewan weren’t given real options for renegotiation, already forcing these two provinces to reject TILMA in order to defend choice of policy.

The BC and Alberta municipalities were left completely in the dark.

The idea that BC municipalities could make amends to TILMA is just talk. The agreement between Alberta and BC stands as signed and there are no provisions in the agreement that give say to municipalities.

The same applies to the TILMA panels, where municipalities and First Nations are subjects but not parties.

One has to be dreaming to think that Yukon entities would be able to renegotiate the agreement.

4. The expectation that there is a need for TILMA, other than for ideological usurpers like Gordon Campbell and his profiteering lawyer buddies, and that it generates economic strength has been proven wrong by the Conference Board of Canada, which had a hand in writing TILMA.

The board in its TILMA promotion talks about the deal’s economic benefits and in its annual economic forecast for BC doesn’t mention TILMA.

Is there a better way to state that TILMA has an ideological and corrupt focus but no practical substance than getting it from the people who wrote TILMA?

What harm will be done to the small Yukon economy if so much money is going to be pumped into a future TILMA litigation industry?

Can this dry up investment into the entrepreneurial economy?

Here are a few TILMA items that I think will address the confusion and carry the conversation forward.

TILMA “Article 22 Further Co-operation” requires ongoing initiative of all parties for the removal of all exceptions for “measures” that would flow out of the House of Commons and the federal government, including exceptions that stand beyond April 2009.

Article 22 is no slouch, but Appendix 1 tops it and gives added strength to Article 22 in controlling parliaments.

That pretty well leaves Appendix 1 (as the only appendix) as the only permanent exception and it reads:

“Appendix 1 — Regulatory bodies with established dispute resolution procedures:

British Columbia Utilities Commission,

British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission,

Alberta Energy Utilities Board.”

That means no business that suffers through the protectionism and billions of dollars in subventions by the Alberta or federal governments in the tar sands will be allowed to apply for the assembly of a TILMA dispute resolution panel.

It is an extraordinary and solitary exception.

Where does this inequality before the laws come from?

Why can’t everybody else who has a dispute-resolution mechanism be listed here?

Lets look at Keith Halliday’s attempt of discrediting TILMA critics by saying that TILMA will be harmless like NAFTA, the Multilateral Agreement on Investment and other trade agreements.

Remember, after a six-year tribunal and millions in litigation expenses in 2007, Canada Post just escaped a NAFTA Chapter 11 (investment) penalty ruling in favour of UPS based on the very existence of Canada Post.

Would the outcome have been the same in a TILMA challenge?

We don’t know yet.

However, we do owe to NAFTA Chapter 11 the cancer-causing benzine content in Canadian gasoline as well as the waste of millions of taxpayer’s dollars in the ensuing penalty payment.

It’s worth mentioning that the Australian/US Free Trade Agreement and other trade agreements in the Pacific specifically have avoided provisions of this type that allow corporations to sue governments and overrule democratic decisions.

For anybody who takes the time to read TILMA a few times one aspect stands out, the wholesale invitation for frivolous litigation that is built into TILMA.

With regard to opening the floodgate of unlimited legal challenges, with the NAFTA Chapter 11 lessons in mind, it seems unwise to underestimate the future creativity of the litigation industry, once it really gets going.

MAI failed, it was rejected by all national governments worldwide exactly because it attempted to strengthen NAFTA Chapter 11 and give it global coverage.

Halliday, MAI didn’t make the list, as you seem to think, because it was undemocratic.

It didn’t happen and it was not benign as you are alluding.

And the other NAFTA chapter 11 extension, the Security and Prosperity Partnership agreement, SPP, from 2005 Waco, Texas, operates exclusively on the executive level, bypassing the representative system just like TILMA — no vote, no ratification for important issues.

That is a bit undemocratic, isn’t it?

Part of the 2007 Montebello SPP negotiations is the plan to raise pesticide limits in groceries.

Halliday, your point that the European Union is following the TILMA/SPP path is really skewed because in Europe they are reducing the toxicity levels in products.

And by the way, TILMA doesn’t have hundreds of pages — it has 36 pages.

The deception that good people like Graham, Karp, Halliday and many others fall victim to is that, in substance, there is no conservative thinking at all in this stuff, no recognition of community, of our constitution, of entrepreneurial values, of social values, of ecological values.

For any independent voice that reads the agreement, TILMA looks like another Neocon fad that is loaded with false language.

But it could become a really expensive one for the Yukon.

Peter Becker